Category Archives: Sabbath Thoughts

Thoughts and reflections on Sabbath.

Remote Control

Unplugged No More

The fast concludes today.  When the kids get home we are going to put the batteries back in the remote controls and turn on the TVs again.

I really liked the silence.  There was something special about the conversations we had in the backyard, around the table, and on the couch.

Not all of these conversations were pleasant.  We talked about some difficult things.

Not all of these conversations were deep.  We goofed off a lot.  We made chitchat.  We shared dreams.  We fantasized.

After almost a week it’s time to relax, but we are not going to relax completely.  We don’t want to go back to the same-ole-same-ole.

We want to make room for conversation to happen.

We want the dinner table to be hallowed.

We want to hear laughter from the backyard and share dreams on the couch.

There are three things that we are going to do before we reinstate the electronics:

Reflect—A good fast is done in vain if it does not lead to a time of reflection.  We need to consider where we’ve been and what we’ve done.  Today is a great day to examine the benefits of having gone without the TV and the game systems.

Restore—After stepping away from being constantly entertained for a while, it’s a good time to restore some boundaries.  Boundaries promote health.  Crossing boundaries always leads to some kind of trouble.  We need to establish high boundaries around our sacred time; time spent with one another around a meal; time enjoined in holy conversation; time spent in play.  Boundaries help us say no to distractions because we have identified what is most important.  Boundaries help us say yes to building up our relationship with one another.

Renew—This past week’s work would be lost if we did not renew a proper relationship between ourselves and our things.  We all have a tendency to allow things to govern our lives. The TV guide should not dictate our schedule.  The latest gadget should not consume our attention.  These kinds of fasts help us gain mastery over our things.  Once we have renewed ourselves as masters, we can focus on allowing our things to serve us as we seek to serve one another.

Lord, teach us to number our days properly. Help us to make the most of the time you give us.  Give us wisdom to say No things that do not matter.  Give us courage to stand up for what matters most.  Give us clarity to know the difference.  Amen!

 Besides TV and electronics, what have you found beneficial to fast from?

Do you plan to fast from anything?

How long should a fast be?

INterblog pic

A Blog, Shared

It’s our day together.

No work. The kids are at school. Jason has his laptop. I have mine.

I’m pretty sure Jason thinks I talk too much. I agree. But I’m on to something, I’ve discovered that when I type my thoughts…I have to let some go—

1) Because I can’t keep up with all of my thoughts and

2) Because some thoughts aren’t worth sharing.

To even out our communicating, Jason and I have come up with a plan. We are going to interblog.

Inter – blog = A collaborative blog writing experience where each author builds upon and expands the thoughts of the other.

I talk a lot on Sundays and Wednesdays. I don’t talk a lot otherwise.

We can drive from here to Amarillo and I’ll never feel the need to say more than, “What do you want to eat?” Sounds pretty lame right?

It is.

But when you’ve known each other for as long as Kristi and I have been knowing one another, there is something deeper being communicated than words can express.

There is a joy of being in each other’s presence. There is a security in a love that is well established. There is a fondness that can be expressed through a look, or a touch. There is a fellowship enjoyed by two who are on a journey together.

 I know a silent car ride doesn’t sound like the most romantic thing in the world. It certainly is weak on the WOW factor. But being beside my bride, for all of these years, for all of these quiet trips, has led to a WOW marriage.

I shared with a group of kiddos not so long ago what my idea of prayer is. It matches what Jason just mentioned.

A prayer can be “Dear Lord, You amaze me…….Amen”. That’s often been the way I speak to God; like we’re having a long distance phone conversation.

If I am in the house with Jason, I don’t tell him bye before I walk out of the room like I’m finished with him. I don’t even say good morning. We are just pleasantly aware of each other’s presence.

If we are to pray without ceasing, there are few “dear Lord’s” and “Amens” because the communication is continual—even in silence. Greetings are unnecessary. I’m thankful that God has given me a life-partner that I can enjoy being with 99.9% of the time (the other .1% accounts for an occasional mood moment).

Our close and steady relationship, I believe, is a beautiful picture of the kind of relationship and communication God wants with us. I say that in complete humility knowing that I am a mere speck of dust in comparison to God. That’s what makes it all the more amazing—that he delights at my delighting in him.

It’s the important things that we take for granted. When we neglect to reflect on what is most important to us, we are in danger of holding those things in low esteem.

It’s sad when we only realize how special something is when it is taken from us. Here’s what I plan to do for both Kristi and for God today…

  • Be Intentional. I’m learning to say, “I Love You” to Kristi and to God throughout the day.
  • Be Creative. I’m going to be loving God and Kristi for a long time. I need to find many ways to express that love.
  • Be Real. God created me to love him from my heart, not from someone else’s idea of how I should love him. He wants my words, my affections, my honest reactions, and my true sentiments. This also applies to how we love our spouses. We need to give them the love that is absolutely true to our hearts. There are no techniques or gimmicks. There is only the real you, encountering the real them, in the context of real love.

Read Song of Solomon. It doesn’t get more real.

 How do you pass your time together?

What conversations do you no longer have to have?

How has your faith formed the relationship you have with your spouse?

Rylie Puzzle 1

Keep Me Unplugged!

The TV fast progresses.

The house is even more quiet than it was before.

Why?  No whining.

Can you believe it, no whining!  Four days in and we’ve realized that we can live without SpongeBob SquarePants.

Last night, instead of hearing, “I LOVE TV!” I heard, “Daddy, can you help me?”

My initial response is always No.

I had plenty of excuses for saying No. It was a long day at church.  I had just mowed the yard (that’s what you have time for when you are not entangled in an episode of Deadliest Catch).  It was close to bedtime.

I reluctantly said No to all of these excuses in order to say Yes to my daughter.

I wasn’t sure what I was saying Yes to, but I said it anyway.

Rylie had three puzzles out.  Two of them already complete.  One, a Disney Princes puzzle, was still in pieces.  Bedtime was quickly approaching.  She needed parental intervention.

I dove in with her.  The odds were against us finishing.  Mom was rooting for us.  With the clock ticking down we finished it. 

The sense of accomplishment was exhilarating.

Me and Rylie and Snow White and Ariel and Cinderella all bonded there on the living room floor.

There’s been a good lesson learned.  Unplugging gives us the room to say Yes to things that ultimately matter.  It’s a way to say No to things that matter not at all.

unplugged tv

Unplug Me Please

Kristi started it at the first of this week. We all needed it. I’ve been so busy that I have not even noticed it.

We are in the waning days of the school year. The kids are distracted by the flurry of end-of-the-year activities. There is a real danger of slipping up on a critical assignment, or not preparing adequately for a test.

So we pulled the plug.

No TV. No electronics (except when necessary for a blog post).

It gets quiet in the house.  The evenings grow long. The boredom drives the children outside. The silence allows us to linger at the table after dinner.  The evening breeze calls us to enjoy the backyard.  The people around us become the center of our attention rather than the people from Hollywood!

Not everyone in the house shares my enthusiasm about this project.

A conversation with Rylie:

Rylie:  I – am-  B–O–R–D!

Me:  Why are you bored?

Rylie: I love TV!

Me:  Well, go throw away all those toys that make you bored.

Rylie: INEXPRESSIBLE-WHINE-ACCOMPANIED-BY-POUTY-FACE!!!

End of conversation.

This experiment has reminded us of something we tend to forget: We need to take captive those things that hold us captive.

Has our little adventure brought about any good?  It’s a little early to tell.  However, the preliminary results look promising.

  • Grades have already started to go up.
  • We learned a new card game.
  • We found some good hiding spots while playing Hide-And-Go-Seek.
  • Rooms were cleaned, before they became dirty again.
  • We did not kill each other.

A more thorough analysis will follow in a few days.

Have you ever unplugged for a period?  What was the hardest part?  I’d love to hear about how it went for you.

Griffin sitting

Dog Spirituality

I’m not a big fan of the family dog.  I’m not talking about family dogs in general.  I’m talking about my family’s dog.

His name is Griffin.  The kids love him.  He is a Miniature Schnauzer.

When I was growing up, out in the country, we had country dogs.  Big, burly beast that chased cars, barked at coyotes, and took long naps on the porch.  These were mongrels and half-breeds, rejects and loners, and if given the chance would eat miniature dogs.

Our dogs weren’t picky about their food.  They ate whatever we didn’t eat, and they liked it.  When we had more than one dog, they would fight for the morsels that fell from their master’s table and then run away to chase cars, armadillos or their tails.

Griffin is the antithesis to the country dog.  He is delicate and urbane. He is picky.

When we present him with the wonderful leftovers from our dinner, he looks, he sniffs, and he usually turns away.

There is something about the way he rejects our offering.  His body language, his bemused look, and his inattentive eyes all combine to communicate his profound disappointment in the quality of our food.

What a jerk!

He treats dog food with the same kind of contempt.  We don’t buy the cheap stuff but we’re not mortgaging the house to get the good stuff either.  What we do give him, he does not eat.  He uses it to entertain himself.  He, and we, watch the birds come in, every day, and pillage his dog bowl.

The birds don’t care that it’s his dog bowl.  They gather. They peck out the best pieces.  They saunter, unafraid, over to his water bowl, dog food in beak.  The birds have learned to dip the dry food in the dog’s water to soften it up before flying off to enjoy their reward.  And Griffin watches.

He watches without any sign of aggravation!

He’s not a country dog.

Stupid dog.

But for all of his stupidity and shortcomings, I have to admit that I’ve found one redeeming quality about Griffin that is worth mentioning.  He knows how to sit.  He can’t fetch, he won’t roll over, he will not heel on command, but he does sit.

Why is this impressive?  Because he does it so well.

I am a restless person, living among restless people, in a restless culture.  It’s hard to sit still.  It’s difficult to stay put.  We feel we are purposeful when we are moving, and doing, and going and working.

Griffin comes up to me in the morning when I’m having my coffee, I say sit, and he sits, so happy just to be in my presence.  He doesn’t expect food.  He doesn’t want a treat.  He’s not distracted by the birds eating his food.  He just sits and he really looks satisfied just sitting, looking intently up at me, tongue flopping out to the right.

When I sit, I either look bored, or tired, or dejected, or anxious.

Maybe we would be better Christians if we learned from our canine friends what it meant to sit in the presence of the Master, in silence, in adoration.  I don’t know.

There are a lot of squirrels to chase and birds to bark at.  What will you do?  Be distracted by the birds or be present with the Master?